FROM MATT TO PAM: APRIL 29,2010
“Hi dear. I looked at the blog this evening after teaching all day to see if there was something new. I remembered you’re working only after I got to blog. Any way, we’ve left the poor readers hanging in Leakey some 10 or so days ago and need to get them home to Oregon. I don’t think a big post is necessary, just something about how we left Leakey on a Sunday and arrived at the Caprock that night in shitty weather that stayed that way while we scouted the rail and trial and finally had to give up and flee south to avoid approaching thunderstorms only to end up in Bottomless Lakes, N.M. and then City of Rocks, N.M before dashing home behind the last Pacific storm and in front of the next one in two 15 hour sprints broken by a few hours of restless sleep at a noisy truck stop just north of Bakersfield (Don’t forget the ill advised run from Parker to 29 Palms.) You can carry the story with picture instead of text. See you tomorrow afternoon. Love.”
How crazy is this? My husband is now communicating to me in email. That’s how our lives have been since our return, and why I have not added to blog recently. I do have pictures but little to comment on about our return home. We remain excited about our return to TX in 4 weeks for the Bird Olympics 2010, but life, as usual, is diverting our attentions to work, yard, garden, etc.-you know the drill. Here are pictures of stunning areas of Texas and New Mexico with lots of potential for little adventures under warmer and sunnier skies-hopefully next trip….
Texas is so vast, and the terrain varies tremendously east to west and north to south. Hill country is beautiful rolling cedar and live oak hillsides rolling on forever to the horizon. The river valleys are deep and wide with dramatic vistas. Huge fenced exotic hunting ranches line the roads on both sides for miles and miles. Glimpses of African deer can be seen at times-very bizarre. Bluebonnets were blooming along the roadsides.
The plains are just flat, flat, flat-what more can be said.
Still patches of beauty can be found.
The panhandle is deceptive. It looks scrubby and slightly rolling but hides beautiful canyons and washes. They look grand for hiking if only we had had decent weather. I suspect that’s a real problem there-either too hot or too cold; too stormy or too windy-with few days just right for exploring. And the red clay/mud was unbelievable after the rain! All the county roads except main highways are dirt surfaced and were unusable except for the biggest and bravest of the 4-wheelers!
We found a stunning state campground at Caprock near Quitaque (see pic for correct pronunciation). I was dying to hike the canyons but between the cold and the storms and the wet mud, conditions were against a positive experience. We had the tent campground completely to ourselves which was sooo peaceful.
Quitaque is located on a 64 mile rail to trail that we hope to ride during our return next month. We’ll break it up into three segments 20-22 miles each and take 3 days. Can’t believe the weather has been so sucky!
These small towns, like Quitaque, are delightful to drive through, with the occasional treasure to discover.
We made a brief scout of Lake Mackenzie Reservoir for kayaking potential, enough to know it’s not for us. It’s a relatively small but deep reservoir (when full). The campgrounds were sad-looking with poor maintenance of bathrooms and showers. Although the sites on the bluffs overlooking the lake had beautiful views, there was no privacy, except the spacing between was pretty generous. Worst of all (from our perspective), waterskiing and skidoos are big attractions on the lake, AND ATVs are clearly tearing up the background. Not what we’re looking for at all! Time to get out of here.
As we travelled into New Mexico, we stopped for one night at a very appealing state park near Roswell: Bottomless Lakes. This is a place worth returning to. No we didn’t see any aliens or even suspicious lights in the sky.
The lakes are a series of sinkholes, large enough to fish and swim in. Each sinkhole has its own little style, and a few primitive campsites along the edges allow you to have a private little lake of your own.
Between and beyond the sinkholes are dry wash canyons begging to be explored. There is a short (1.25mi) flat biking/hiking trail to a larger lake that has RV hookups, protected swimming for kids and a main pavilion for picnics-probably has a concession during the summer. Lake is too small to be of much kayaking interest altho it could work for wet entry practice and rollovers (!).
We did hike a small canyon the next morning, and it was divine.
I hope to see more of this country. It’s awesome!
We drove somewhat leisurely south and west, stopping briefly at parks in Artesia and Las Cruces; Matt to check emails and me to practice photography.
Next night we pulled into City of Rocks SP, New Mexico. Picture islands of boulders popping out of a sea of flat desert surrounded by distant mountain ranges on the horizon. Hard to believe such places exist. Campsites are nestled in, under and around the boulder patches. There are a couple short (1-2mi) bike trails (suitable for trail bikes only) around and between the boulder piles. We were only able to try one of them before dark-I nearly crashed in an arroyo sand bank! The night brought strong winds, but a bright half-moon allowed a midnight walk among the boulders near our camp. It was both eery and beautiful to scramble (cautiously) around the rocks, gazing at the distant lights on the horizon at the base of the mountain range to the west and lightning strikes from the storm clouds to the north-life doesn’t get any better than this. Even though we were sheltered in our campsite, the wind buffeted The Slipper half the night before easing in the early morning.
Now we’re headed home for real. There is so much beautiful country between NM and OR, but we are out of time. Couple places I want to look into on another trip are the Gila River area near Virden, NM and Sheep Hole Valley Wilderness Area east of 29 Palms, CA. So many places; so little time. We’ll be on the road again the last full week of May headed for Leakey, TX for the 2010 Bird Olympics. We’re hoping we ‘ll get to do our first ever multiday rail to trail at Caprock after the Olympics!